After working on his novel Family Life for seven years, Akhil Sharma began to lose his mind. Whenever he sat down to write, he began having panic attacks, the kind that left his chest feeling “constantly bruised” for months on end. Eventually, he hit on a solution: he learned to take his mind off his novel by praying for other people.
“The peace may be holding, but the process is faltering,” writes Colum McCann, forty years after the Dublin/Monaghan bombings, in his evaluation of Ireland’s present relationship with the “Troubles.” “It is, of course, naïve to expect total reconciliation,” he continues. “Some grievances are so deep that the people who suffered them will never be satisfied. But the point is not satisfaction — the point is that the present is superior to the past, and it has to be cultivated as such.”